Archives for November 2015

For Autism Initiative, Sesame Street Looks to Our Neighborhood

TV’s “Sesame Street” has long been populated with flightless birds, singing frogs, cuddly monsters and children of all sorts. And as the number of children diagnosed on the autism spectrum continues to grow in the world at large, they are coming to Sesame Street as well. To help out with the “Sesame Street and Autism: See Amazing in All Children” initiative, Sesame Workshop turned to a neighborhood in Sherman Oaks, and the students at Exceptional Minds Studio. The studio is a nonprofit vocational center where young adults with Autism Spectrum Disorders train for careers in visual effects and digital animation....

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This Holiday Shopping Keeps Vacation Dreams Afloat

Since 2006, Autism on the Seas has organized and staffed vacations (on cruises and at resorts on land) for families with children and adults with a variety of special needs – from autism to Down syndrome, cerebral palsy and other types of challenges. Now the organization has launched a nonprofit arm that will help fund these vacations as well. The Autism on the Seas Foundation will award varying amounts of financial assistance to children and adults with special needs, their caregivers and immediate family members to fund vacations on cruises staffed by Autism on the Seas staff. These staff members...

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Are Those Toys Safe, Ducky?

The baby board book, featuring lots of colors and textures meant to stimulate developing brains, was labeled “organic.” Josh Kasteler tested it anyway, and found that the packaging contained such a high level of phthalates – chemicals widely believed to disrupt hormone levels – that it contaminated the book as well. Kasteler, a biochemist and molecular biologist who founded Santa Monica-based Safe Ducky ( in June, tests toys and other children’s products for dangerous toxins and removes them from shelves at Safe Ducky member stores. He and Safe Ducky employees check for government-regulated toxins, wielding equipment that uses X-rays to...

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Mom’s Treat: Time to Relax

Bring a five-star spa massage to your home with Zeel Massage On Demand. Win a 60-minute in-home massage from a vetted, licensed therapist from Zeel ($99 value each, Relax and enjoy at your convenience – book as little as an hour in advance on the Zeel app or website. Zeel Massage Therapists come to you – just relax and enjoy on your own schedule! Available for start times 8am through 10:30pm, all year round. Two winners will be chosen. Enter for a chance to win by Monday, December 14 at midnight, just in time to gift it for the...

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Motherhood and Managing the Holiday Blues

Most of us have an image in our minds of the perfect family holiday: Sitting together around a table eating a delicious meal and sharing family stories, or maybe cuddled in front of the fireplace with beautiful decorations all around, exchanging gifts. But these pictures often aren’t as close to our reality as we would like. The pressure to create beautiful holiday memories, coupled with the everyday pressures of being a parent – especially a new parent – can lead to overwhelming feelings of anxiety, stress, and even depression. Deborah Groening, LMFT, executive director of Well Baby Center in Mar...

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Holiday fun

Holiday Recipes From Milo and Olive

When Erin Eastland was moving to Southern California from New York in 2005, it didn’t take her long to figure out that she wanted to call Santa Monica home. It helped that she and her family scoped out the city on a Wednesday. “We came upon the farmers’ market and I was like, ‘We’re done,’” says the mom of two, who is now executive chef at Milo and Olive, a cozy restaurant on Wilshire Boulevard that serves bakery-centric breakfast, and wood-fired pizzas and small plates inspired by that very farmers’ market for lunch and dinner. Eastland and her husband, Rick,...

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Business-Minded Parents Make a Playdate Connection

When Lisa Fisher rolled into the launch party for the parent networking group Playdate Connection – trailed by her 2-year-old son, Drake, who has autism – she had no idea what to expect. “I didn’t know what the word ‘networking’ meant,” she says. “I’d never sold anything to strangers before. I was nervous.” It turned out she had nothing to fear. As soon as the paraplegic entrepreneur started putting out the Jamberry fingernail accessories she brought to share, she made her first sale. “The woman at the table next to mine got so excited because she had lost touch with...

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A Happy Home For Unwanted Decorations

Planning to change your holiday tree theme this year from candy cane red to icicle blue? Tired of that 10-pack of snowman wrapping paper you bought last year? Ready to retire those strings of retro lights? Richstone Family Center wants to give your unwanted ornaments, decorations and wrapping paper a new home for the holidays. Richstone Family Center in Hawthorne is dedicated to preventing and treating child abuse and trauma; strengthening and educating families; and decreasing violence in families, schools and communities. They serve thousands of children and families with counseling, home visits, early-childhood education and after-school enrichment programs, domestic...

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Keeping It Real For Your Child Actor

Every parent is proud of their little darling’s accomplishments, from the finger paintings on the refrigerator to – in the case of some of our Hollywood-bred children – the National commercial airing during the Super Bowl. We adults recognize the difference between these two accomplishments, but kids might feel much more excited about their artwork on the fridge than about the day they spent on set eating cereal. And that’s just how it should be. When parenting child actors, it is our job to limit discussions about “the business” to other adults. I am an actor, and when my son...

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L.A. Parent Special Needs Resource Fair Program Guide

  Our 2015 Special Needs Resource Fair was held November 15 at the Skirball Cultural Center and featured entertainment from The Miracle Project and Ballet for All Kids, along with more than 40 tables from businesses and services that are resources to families in our community.  Click here to view our Special Needs Program Guide.

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